World’s First AI-Driven Radio Station Brings Scary Implications
In the famous words of Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
Artificial Intelligence Used to Create the World’s First 100% AI-Driven Radio Hosts
You've heard of ChatGPT, but now get ready for something even more advanced. Technology company Futuri launched RadioGPT. RadioGPT combines the power of GPT-3 technology with Futuri's AI-driven targeted story discovery and social system, TopicPulse, as well as AI voice tech to provide an unmatched localized radio experience for any market, any format.
Futuri is a leading provider of cloud-based audience engagement and sales intelligence software for media companies. Their Cleveland-based team of more than 100 engineers and media specialists create technology solutions that drive audience and revenue growth for thousands of broadcasters and publishers in 20 countries.
RadioGPT uses TopicPulse technology, which scans Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and 250k+ other sources of news and information, to identify which topics are trending in a local market. Then, using GPT-3 technology, RadioGPT creates a script for on-air use, and AI voices turn that script into compelling audio.
To make it even creepier, RadioGPT has a variety of voices for single, duo, and trio-hosted shows. Not just that, but it can generate social posts, blogs, and other content for digital platforms related to the content on the air in real time. It can even create short videos centered around hot topics.
My Thoughts on RadioGPT
I've been listening to RadioGPT to learn about what will eventually make me obsolete. I was expecting something way more clunky, but no, this is pretty clean. First of all, what I was listening to was playing a lot of hits from the 80s up to the 2000s. I don't know if I can change the genre at all, but one thing is for sure, they were playing all the hits and songs that I love.
One thing that I noticed was that they do not play the whole song. They will jump around to various spots in the song. It's not jarring. If you weren't paying attention, you may not notice. For instance, they made "Rocket Man" by Elton John, a 4:30 minute song, into only 1 minute. This is probably done to adjust to society's rapidly declining attention span. The TikTok for radio persay.
Uncanny Valley For Voices
You've probably heard of the term "uncanny valley" lately, especially when it comes to movies. The uncanny valley can happen when something looks almost human but certain features are not quite right. It leaves a pit in your stomach like something is not right, and it can even trigger your fight or flight reflex. The phenomenon has even been used to explain the failure of animated movies with creepy-looking characters like The Polar Express. Other examples include human-like dolls, robots and animatronics, and most recently in the world of film, MODOK in Marvel's Antman: Quantumania.
Does the uncanny valley exist for artificial voices? I believe it can because I am getting that vibe from these AI-DJ's. It is so close to being human, but it is ever so slightly stinted. I feel like HAL from 2001: Space Odyssey is running things. The voices are engaging and personable, but slightly off-putting at the same time. And they do not let you forget that it is AI-driven. Something I heard them say was:
Feminine Voice 1: "I'm AI!"
Masculine Voice 2: "Same here!"
Multiple Voices: "We all are!"
Certain things they say just send a shiver down my spine. When going into music trivia, they say "I know everything about every song and artist."
At one point, they threw shade at real-life DJs with this line: "Anything a human radio person can do, I can do better."
When they were doing an air break about the new iPhone, the AI said, "That's the thing about us AI types. No need to recharge! We just keep going, and going, and going." If that isn't nightmare fuel, I don't know what is.
First RadioGPT, Next Skynet
In the recent trailer for the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Rocket says, "He didn't want to make things perfect. He just hated things the way they are." That's the sentiment that I feel that scientists are having lately when it comes to AI. What's wrong with real human interaction? Is ease and accessibility so worth giving up autonomy?
I've been talking to a friend of mine a lot lately about the advancements in AI-driven applications. My friend is a writer, and he's worried about the potential that his job could be phased out by computers. We worry that entertainment, education, and information will be controlled and mediated by these machines. One concern that I brought up is that we will all turn into the civilization in Wall-E, unable to do anything for ourselves.
What Does This Mean for the Future of Radio?
If you asked most people a month ago what they thought would cause the death of radio, they would probably say streaming. Now that this has come out, I fear it could be AI-Generated content. As I said earlier, the programs can create playlists, gather news, create blogs and videos, and even create DJs. Not just radio, but I can see a lot of media content going this way. Whole shows and podcasts are being created simply by AI.
As an artist and content creator, I really fear for the future of art. We are seeing these machines create genuinely impressive content more and more. Some people will argue that they can never replicate the human element, but is that going to be a problem? With short attention spans, a desire for immediate gratification, an over-saturation of the market, and the constant derivative, dumbed-down content the population already indulges in, who's to say anyone would mind the difference?
In moments like these, I encourage people to support local radio, go see a live show, walk around an art gallery, go for a hike, and read an actual book. Stories such as Fahrenheit 451, 1984, The Giver, and THX 1138 were all supposed to be cautionary tales, not non-fiction.